Going in to these races I was pretty worked. I have been training hard for London and had no intention of tapering for them, but instead just racing through them and using them as part of my build for the championships. I was so worked that I couldn't get through my bike interval session on Tuesday which left me with an uneasy feeling going in to the weekend. That wasn't helped by the fact that I found out Wednesday afternoon I wasn't going to have the bike box I reserved when I had a 7 am flight the next day! I am lucky enough to have a large enough network that I was able to find a box pretty quickly but that doesn't mean I wasn't stressed to the max worrying about it until my bike was packed and ready to go. Other than that travel went quite smoothly so I will spare you the details and just hop into the race.
Swim: 23:51 1:27/100yd 617/2677
I noticed while waiting for some of the other waves to go off that Tim Yount was shouting out the top athletes in each wave as they were headed in to the water. I told Erica that I was hoping he would call my name but when he actually did it lit a little bit of an extra fire under me. I was humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the other guys since I had been racing and chasing them for years. You get to know your competition by name even if not by face racing against the same guys year after year. Shortly after I heard my name being announced I hopped in the water for a quick swim warm up.
After swimming the course on Friday I determined I was going to start way left and then swim diagonally to the first buoy to minimize the beating I would take by starting in the middle of the pack. I figured I would be able to latch on to the group once we hit the buoy and headed under the bridge. I seemed to have calculated it correct as I merged with the group and headed to under the bridge. The group must have picked up their speed because I lost them shortly after that. I kept sight of them however, and pushed to keep pace.
I was actually surprised that I had so much clean water to swim in after that point, with almost 190 swimmers in our wave I thought for sure it would have been super congested, but for the most part I was swimming alone from the bridge to the turn around. As I eased in more to my swim I started to pass people as I was chasing the pack, I could tell I was not far behind, but I could also tell people were starting to get spit out the back. I made my way closer and closer to the group which was getting smaller and smaller. By the time I caught up with the pack again it was time to go back under the bridge. Once I caught them I ended up swimming with them and then through them up to the finish ramp. I missed the ramp when I stepped down, but there were plenty of volunteers to help you up the steep slippery ramp. I was a little disappointed when I saw my watch because I thought I swam a bit faster, but a 23:xx still kept me in contention for my Team USA bid.
we had a little bit of a run to transition, but all went well, wet suit off, helmet, socks, and shoes on. I really need to work on this before London as I see many t1 times about a minute faster than mine. I'm not a fast enough swimmer to be giving up more time in t1!
Bike: 59:30 25.1 MPH 121/2677
Coming on to the bike I'm always on a mission,after doing damage control on the swim, this is where I pick up most of my time on the other athletes. The one problem I have found with this strategy as I have moved up in the ranks, is that most of the better triathletes that are good swimmers bike and run extremely well also. After settling in I started to go for it. I wanted to be under an hour for the bike and I knew I was going to have to work for it. We had a little bit of a headwind on the way out so it took a little while to settle in but I was cranking in no time. Once I hit the first turn around I was suddenly coasting going 35 mph without much effort. I was trying to keep my power constant, but with the tailwind it proved to be a challenge.
There was a nice stretch before we hit the Hoan bridge which proved to be the most challenging climb of the day, which was to be expected. The course was touted as flat but I still got close to 1000 ft of climbing according to my Garmin when it was all said and done. Since we had a 15 minute break before our wave went off we had a pretty clean course. Coming down the bridge was a little iffy with the crosswinds but I stayed in the bars to maximize my aero position and speed. The middle of the course was a pretty flat out and back section where I continued to pick up and pass other riders. I ended catching up to and riding the rest of the course legally with 2 other riders as we paced each other all the way back in to T2. I couldn't seem to shake them so we went back and forth for the final 5 miles or so. I finally pulled away climbing the bridge and kept my lead for the rest of the ride. I rolled in to T2 in just under an hour, which was my goal.
T2: 1:00 quick and simple, nice and effective. This could not have been any faster.
Run: 39:58 6:24 minute/mi 274/2677
I started out on the run feeling pretty good. I knew had met my bike goal and I was slightly off on my swim, with 1:26 on my watch all I needed to do was run a 34:xx 10k to break 2 hours! Since I knew that wasn't going to happen I started the run ready to push and see what I was capable of. By this time I had caught the front of the W25-29 wave that started 12 minutes ahead of us and was looking to see how many 25-29 men I could catch that had a 22 minute lead on us. Within the first half mile one of the guys I was going back and forth with on the bike Mike Sikorski, passed and dropped me pretty convincingly. I was hoping my run legs would come around, but he seemed to be floating as he cruised past me at under a 6:00/mi pace. I was a little disappointed to see only a 6:20 when I crossed mile 1 even though we were running in to a headwind. I picked it up a little bit after the turn around and I hit mile 2 in 6:11 which would turn out to be my fastest mile of the day. I have the habit of being too comfortable on my runs in Olympic distance triathlons, so I wanted to make sure I was pushing it. I kind of faded in to a 6:30 pace for the rest of my run, but I continued to pass other athlete. The only time that I remember being passed was at the beginning of the run by Mike, with the exception of one of the girls that I passed early on the run who had a strong closing mile.
I closed the last .25 mile with a strong 6:07 pace managing to keep myself from throwing up in the process. I crossed the line happy with my race and thought that I was a definite lock for a Team USA short course spot in Edmonton next year. Considering I wasn't tapered and I had been working myself pretty hard up until the race I was thrilled. I talked to Mike a little after and we were sure we both made the team for a 2nd consecutive year. I was shocked when he told me about 30 minutes later that his 2:04 had only netted him 22 place in our age group. I wasn't sure how many guys were in between us so I knew that probably kicked me out of contention.
Total: 2:06:40 31/183 AG 205/2677
When I checked my results and saw I was 31st I was a little disappointed. Even though this was only a B race for me as London is my A race and so close I was still upset. I wasn't even sure if I was going to go if I qualified but having the option is always nice. I thought there might be hope with the age up rules, but I figured it was still a long shot.
We went to the awards ceremony to see if I had in fact made it later that night. When I finally got to view the roll-down list, I was not in the top 25 and I did not get a slot. I was 1:38 out of contention! Fully tapered I should be able to run a 38:xx and ride a bit faster, but I lost a lot of time in T1. I suspect next year qualifying times are going to be even faster and the race is going to be more competitive since the world championships for 2015 is in Chicago. When I come back I will be gunning for a Sub 2 finish!
After hoping in the Normatec boots for some recovery and getting back to the room to clean up and shower it didn't leave us a lot of time to eat before heading down to the awards, in fact we didn't get to eat our first real meal of the day until sometime after 6 pm, which surely effected my recovery for the sprint.
Race morning Day 2 was more of the same, get down there get out of transition by 7:30 and then wait. There was no delay this time so I timed my nutrition as if I was going off on time at 9:18. I don't really take in any nutrition during a sprint race so this is quite important for me. As we were waiting on the dock to be the next ones in the water I could suddenly tell something was wrong. People were panicking and the wave before us was told to get out of the water. They started a search and rescue for a lost swimmer that we were told they could not find. This went on for about 45 minutes until they finally found the swimmer eating breakfast somewhere. Apparently he decided he did not want to race after getting in the water for a swim warm up and didn't tell anyone.
While I was sitting there in my wetsuit waiting for instructions I started to have a slight panic attack. I didn't really think about it but just sitting in it for close to an hour while waiting definitely made me sweat a bunch. I pulled down my suit and went for a bathroom break to see if it would help my situation and it certainly seemed to. After the figured out that the athlete they were looking for wasn't really missing they sent the wave before us back in the water. The problem was that they didn't allow our wave in the water for a proper warm up. As soon as they sent the wave before us off we started complaining and they finally let us in with about 4 minutes to go. I ran down the dock with a bunch of other athletes and dove in the water to get used to the water after sitting idle for an hour+ waiting to get called. Even though I heard it the day before at a much bigger race it still felt good to have Tim Yount shout me out as one of the top athletes in the wave. That's two days in a row! It's nice to be recognized by the NGB!
Swim: 12:38 209/1099
I started off in the same spot as the day before as it seemed to work quite well for me. As the gun went off I went for it leading the pack from my side. As I merged into the larger group I started to feel the panic strike again. I haven't had one since my first race of 2012 so its been a while. I quickly turned on my back to catch a few breaths and went right back to swimming, as I took a few more strokes I could tell it was not going away. I pushed on my back once more to try and calm myself and then made my way back to my stomach. I pushed through and eventually calmed down. I eased back in and started to make some headway and pass some of the people that had swam by me while I was busy panicking, but the damage had been done. I came out of the water swimming a slower pace than I had for twice the distance the day before.
T1: 2:14 429/1099 A little faster than yesterday, but still slower than I would have liked!
Bike: 31:07 24 Mph 47/1099
I got on the bike upset with my swim and upset that I had a panic attack. I immediately started to take it out on my bike. I was punishing my legs with an all out effort that saw me close in on the 400 watt range more than a few times. I knew the bike was going to be a lot harder than the day before as we had to go over the bridge back to back which left little time for recovery. I passed a lot on the bike and kept moving forward I could tell I was getting close to the front of my wave by the time we turned around on the bridge so I turned up the heat.
As soon as we turned around it was like riding in to a wind tunnel, the headwinds coming at us made the climb back over the bridge extra difficult but I powered on as best I could. I finally made it off the bike in about 31 minutes, which was slower than I had planned, but still having one of the top bike splits.
T2: 0:59 88/1099:
Almost exactly the same as yesterday. Score!
Run: 19:45: 6:21 min/mile 148/1099
Coming off the bike I felt TERRIBLE. I was pushing with everything I had left. I was going to empty the tank one way or the other. As bad as I felt I was passing people, a lot of people! I couldn't believe how "slow" I was running for the effort I was giving out. I knew I looked bad because every time I would pass spectators they would stand up and clap and cheer for me since they could tell I was ripping myself apart. At the 1st turn around I could see the top guys in my wave and I realized that as bad as I was feeling I might have an outside shot at a podium finish.
I started to try and pick it up but my legs still weren't moving. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't moving but looking back its probably due to a lack of nutrition and a slight dehydration from being in my wet suit too long.
About 3 miles in I got passed for the first time on the bike or run, he was gliding along pretty smoothly and I was just hanging on. I came across the line in 11th place in my AG and qualified for Team USA 2014. That being said I should not be running a 5k at the EXACT same pace as I ran a 10k the day before. With the Sprint triathlon world championships exactly a month from today I hope to get that rectified. I'm guessing it was a nutrition/hydration issue and plan on avoiding that in London. Even though I qualified to race in Edmonton next year, I will probably pass and focus on getting to Chicago in 2015!
total: 1:06;45 11/55AG 89/1099 OA